For sale on Detroit’s Facebook Marketplace are automobiles so soulful and yet so cheap that even I — a man in the process of culling his automotive herd — am on the verge of succumbing. Once you see these machines, you will be, too. (How many of these do you think he ends up with? —ED)
Out of habit, I’m constantly keeping an eye on Facebook Marketplace, which has over the past five years taken over Craigslist’s perch as The Ultimate Car Buying Site For Cheap Car Shopping. I am in no way looking to buy another vehicle right now...and yet I’m not entirely sure what to do about these four gems for sale in my neck of the woods.
Mighty American compact car manufacturer Crosley of Cincinatti, Ohio didn’t last long, starting out life in the 1930s and disappearing in the early 1950s. But in that span, the company built some true gems including the Farm-O-Road (a little off-road car that looks like a Jeep) and the CD Four, which you see here for sale near Detroit for only $2,000.
By far the most interesting thing about Crosleys is the sub-1-liter engine they used. They are fascinating bits of engineering. On a traditional car of the era, a cast iron cylinder head containing valves and valve springs sat atop a cast iron block, which consisted of the cylinder housing and crankcase (which together contained the camshaft and full rotating assembly — crankshaft, pistons, rods). Crosley did things differently.
Though there was a valve cover on top like on a traditional engine, the cylinder head and cylinders themselves were all one iron casting that looked like this:
The image above shows the valve springs, four spark plug holes on the side, thermostat mounting location, and tower shaft gear. That shaft gear drives an overhead camshaft (which was very advanced tech in the 1950s).
Here’s a look at another Crosley CIBA engine, this one with the pillow blocks that hold the camshaft, and with tappets on top of the valve springs. The crankshaft mounted in a separate crankcase drives the tower shaft, which drives the overhead camshaft, whose lobes ride along the tappets, which push against the valve springs, opening the valves:
Looking from the other side of this cylinder housing/head unit, you can see some valves and the mounting holes for the crankcase.
Here’s a look at the aluminum crankcase, which bolts to the bottom of the cast iron combined head/cylinder housing shown above. You can see where the crankshaft mounts into the crankcase, and where it drives the gear for the tower shaft, which ultimately rotates the camshaft:
I’m going to catch myself before I dive too deep into this rabbit hole and just say: Someone needs to buy that Crosley. It’s only $2,000!
This one is really tempting. It’s a 1962 Studebaker Champ, one of the most beautiful pickup trucks of all time, even if it used a Dodge bed whose lines don’t quite match up with the cab. From Hemmings:
The Champ’s slab-sided bed was a new-for-’61 option and, if it seems like the body lines don’t exactly jibe with the cab’s, well, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. Like the OHV conversion, this too was one of those last-ditch combinations that Studebaker threw, defending itself against the Big Three. There was no money to build a more modern-looking box to replace its 1949-vintage unit, so Studebaker bought retired tooling from Dodge and pressed it back into service. Once the Studebaker logo was stamped into the tailgate, Dodge’s former “Sweptline” box became Studebaker’s new “Spaceside” box. Sure, the fit was a little off, but desperate times...
Studebaker didn’t put a whole lot of investment into the Champ. The front suspension was a solid axle, the engines were antiquated, and a number of body panels were adaptations of panels used on other vehicles. The advantage of this cheapness, though, was that consumers could snag this gorgeous pickup for a song!:
In fact, the Champ is still cheap, with a decent inline-six example listed on Facebook Marketplace for only $3,000.
The Mitsubishi Pajero name is a legendary one in the off-road world, thanks largely to the second-generation model, though the first-gen—like the one shown above—deserves credit, too, for it was also a real off-road powerhouse.
Brought to the U.S. as the Dodge Raider as part of Chrysler and Mitsubishi’s “Diamond Star Motors” partnership that lasted from the 1980s to the 2000s, the Pajero was available only as a two-door, and featured either a ~110 horsepower 2.6-liter inline-four or a ~145 horsepower 3.0-liter v6.
It’s not clear which engine the Raider for sale in Michigan has under the hood, but the truck does have a five-speed manual and a fantastic blue interior. And that’s really what matters, isn’t it?:
The asking price of $3,495 seems reasonable for this boxy little off-road beast.
I’ve always been amazed by how cheap MGs are. They’re fantastic little lightweight British convertibles. No, they’re not quick; no, they’re not the most reliable; and no, their bodies aren’t impervious to rust. But come on, it’s a beautiful, bright red, running (if poorly), driving sports car for $1,200! How is that even possible?
This particular one for sale in Michigan is a 1977 MGB with a tiny 1.8-liter ~62 horsepower four-cylinder under the hood feeding torque to a four-speed manual. It needs a new top, some brake and carburetor work, and probably a some other wrenching help, but the fact that the engine runs, the transmission shifts through its four gears, and the body doesn’t look too rotted out makes this look like a great deal.
Not as great of a deal as that Studebaker Champ, though. I really want that.